Reporting on politics of contemporary art in Los Angeles recently publicized the development of the Broad Museum for Contemporary Art, which will house a 2,000-piece collection. As an example of the intent to make Los Angeles the capital of contemporary art, the $130-million-dollar museum follows a history of collecting by Eli and Edythe Broad. The Broad Art Foundation also facilitates the spread of culture by loaning artworks to museums across four continents. The collection comprises more than 1,500 works by more than 100 artists, such as Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons. While contemporary artworks have come to command multimillion-dollar prices, artists continue to create “affordable” works for the market.
China and Brazil provide examples of emerging markets for contemporary art that enable new artists to gain international exposure. A demand for “affordable artworks” in China has given rise to a series of art fairs that select for newer artists and restrict the maximum price (e.g. from $5,000 to $10,000) for individual works, and in the past decade, art “supermarkets” in China have made works available to everyone on an ongoing-basis. An expanding on-line market in China, allows ordinary wage-earners to invest in and collect art. Similarly, the middle-class in Brazil has taken to investing new-found wealth in art from galleries and ArtRio, an international art fair that started last year in Rio de Janeiro. While many of the galleries from abroad at the fair hail from established art centers such as New York, London, Berlin, and Zurich, an expanding interest in collecting suggests that emerging art centers will soon have a presence.
For example, the Korean International Art Fair (KIAF), which took place this month in Seoul, featured contemporary artists from Latin America. Due to a slump in the art market in Korea, galleries at the fair displayed works across a broad price range. While prominent artists such as Fang Lijun commanded high prices, younger local artists offered affordable works. Reportedly, Latin American contemporary art is undervalued, so an event such as KIAF has the potential to foster a market for Latin American art in Asia. Aspiring collectors in Seoul who purchase works of emerging artists from Bogota, Columbia prove the value of the contemporary art market as an instrument for cultural diplomacy.
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